Does Depression Require Workplaces to Accommodate Sufferers in New York?

Jonas Urba, a New York employment lawyer, here with Employment Law Reality Check. I am getting many more calls from employees suffering with depression. And that’s to be expected, we’ve been dealing with COVID now for over a year. Does your employer need to know if you suffer from depression? No. But, if you’re going to ask for family medical leave, which applies if you’ve worked somewhere for 12 months and there are more than 50 employees. Or, you’re going to request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the employer is not entitled to know the medical facts which support your need for either family medical leave, whether it’s a specific term or intermittent leave, or whether you require some type of accommodation at work. They will ask your medical provider when did the condition begin, how long is it expected to last, and what they need to do to help you get your family medical leave. For example, leave every week or every month or whatever the need is, whatever your physician or medical provider says your need is. They will also ask how long the condition might last. They don’t need to know what your medical diagnosis is. But human resources and your supervisor should be aware that you need FMLA or an accommodation for some type of disability. And they need to coordinate with each other. Sometimes what they’ll do is the left hand won’t tell the right hand what it’s doing. And that could interfere with your ability to get enough time to actually treat whatever condition you do have. There could be an FMLA interference claim there. But it does get complicated. When you overlap the Family Medical Leave with the Americans with Disabilities Act and then you bring in the New York State Executive Law that can get kind of complicated. Clever employers sometimes can mask or cover up some of the things that might be against the law. So before you disclose your underlying medical conditions probably a good idea is to talk to some employment lawyers. I’m Jonas Urba, I serve the entire state of New York and I can be reached at (212) 731-4776, attorney advertising.






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